Are truck underride guards currently safe enough?

There are many different things that could potentially play a role in a big rig accident. One is what sort of underride guard the involved truck has.

An underride guard is a structure at the back of a truck's frame that is aimed at keeping vehicles from sliding under the truck. 

Since 1953, the federal government has had an underride guard requirement in place for most big rig trucks. The specifics of the federal underride guard regulations have changed over the years. There have been instances in which the federal government changed the regulations to put stricter requirements in place.

Questions have arisen over whether the current regulations are strong enough. Some argue that there are relatively low-cost improvements that can be made in the design of underride guards that could make them even safer, and that federal regulations should be changed to mandate these improved designs.

One woman argues that such a design change, a change in the spacing of an underride guard's support bars, might have been able to prevent the deaths of her two daughters. Her daughters died in an accident in which the vehicle they were in ended up going under a tractor-trailer. The tractor-trailer's underride guard failed to prevent this sliding-under from occurring. The woman argues that things might have gone differently had the underride guard had a different design.

Since the accident, the woman has been advocating for improved underride guards. It is believed that her efforts are one of the reasons why the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is now looking into changing federal underride guard regulations. One wonders what sort of changes the NHTSA will ultimately make and if they will end up mandating some of the underride guard design changes advocates are pushing for.

Do you think changes need to be made regarding what sorts of underride guards are required by federal law?

Whether a truck met all currently in-force federal regulations (including regulations regarding what safety features a truck must have, like underride guard safety regulations) can have impacts on the issue of liability in a big rig accident. Whether or not a truck met federal safety regulations is one of the things truck accident attorneys can investigate for victims of big rig accidents.

Source: Bloomberg Businessweek, "Mom Says $100 Truck Tweak Could Have Saved Her Daughters," Jeff Plungis and David Voreacos, Dec. 16, 2014

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